During the Vietnam War, the US Army deployed a very large number of well-trained military dogs
According to many official statistics, the US deployed to Vietnam at least 4,000 military dogs, possibly even up to a maximum of 5,000 dogs. At least 3,700 dogs were in the Army, with numbers and military ranks, and were trained in professional sniffing. These “genuine” service dogs were often tattooed with numbers on their ears.
Service Dogs were used by the US Army on patrol missions, searching for guerrillas, warehouses, dead mailboxes or even finding enemy tunnels. The theory was like that, but in reality, the American service dogs had a not-so-satisfactory ending after many years of fighting in Vietnam.
According to the US War Dog Association, only 204 service dogs were returned to the US after the war ended. However, the US military also only recorded 350 cases of service dogs dying in combat, the remaining number was a mystery. According to many documents, mainly American service dogs in Vietnam died from injuries and diseases. These casualties, however, were often listed as missing, and underreported.
During the first time when the US military was deployed to Vietnam, a lot of sniffer dogs were also deployed. However, at this time, in South Vietnam, there were absolutely no veterinarians. The lack of veterinarians and medicine is believed to be one of the major causes of the great loss to these American dogs.
For foreign purebred dogs, it was also very difficult to adapt to the hot weather conditions in the South of Vietnam, leading to their health gradually declining. According to the statistics of the website “k9history.com” (the K-9 was the codename for the US military’s service dogs), up to 90% of this force, died in Vietnam due to illness and physical impairment.
After 1973, the US military also left a lot of service dogs in South Vietnam. Most of them were left loose and turned into feral dogs. Until 1975, the US Embassy in Saigon withdrew, many US service dogs and pets were also left behind.